Seven steps to being more “you” in your relationships.

We all want to be loved.

We all want to be seen and appreciated for who we truly are. We all have a desire for people to see beyond our façade and truly grasp our uniqueness. At the same time, we all make a concerted effort to hide our imperfections and present our best selves to the world.

We want people to see our “authentic” self, while at the same time, we are presenting a positive veneer of a successful, composed, emotionally regulated person. …


The sweet spot between a over-crier and a blocked crier.

Crying is a natural and organic way of expressing and releasing emotions. Sometimes you have tears of joy, sometimes of sadness. Either way, there is usually a huge sense of relief. Crying usually enlists empathy and closeness with your partner, as vulnerability brings people together.

Yet crying in a relationship is not always easy. Some of us cry very often (over-crying), and some of us find it hard to cry at all (blocked criers). Both of these extremes have their handicaps and take their tolls on intimate relationships.

The art of relational crying is the balance between these two extremes…


What you forget, your partner never does.

Do you or your partner inevitably forget things that may be important to your partner in the relationship? Anniversaries, birthdays, fights, arguments, promises, errands? And if so, does your partner need to remember everything and feel the need to remind you and nag?

If so, this dance is limiting and hurting the intimacy in your relationship.

Why do people forget?

Young children often use the defense mechanism of forgetting in order to not remember things that may have been scary or traumatic. It is one of the most effective early defense mechanisms. It is very efficient, and when it erases a memory, it really…


Why do we always involve others in our intimate relationships?

Most of us think that two is the most stable number in relationships. But that’s not true. Every dyad needs a third to stabilize it.

I know this might sound somewhat strange but when you examine relationships from a systemic viewpoint, this process becomes evident. The process of including a third in a dyad is called triangulation.

When do couples triangulate?

Triangulation is a natural and unavoidable dynamic that occurs in every intimate relationship, especially during tense periods. Triangulation occurs when both partners are not sufficiently differentiated. Differentiation is my ability to be myself and also to be an intimate relationship (click here to…


“Dare to repair” in love and life with these three steps.

When babies learn how to walk, their parents cheer them on with every misstep. They do not criticize them or give them the “feedback sandwich”-they just clap. When we start learning how to walk in this world, we’re not making mistakes but rather we are experimenting and exploring. Whether our choice is right or wrong-there are no mistakes.

As we grow older, we become scared of getting it wrong, of failing, of being ridiculed. So we shy away from mistakes. …


Maintenance sex is better than no sex.

There is tremendous pressure to have electrifying, earth-shattering sex at every encounter. The failure to experience this can leave both partners feeling like failures.

Men want to satisfy their partners and feel the need to provide their partner with multiple orgasms or their job isn’t done. Women feel pressure to look and perform “sexy” along some unrealistic scale of sexiness. Both have fallen victim to the effects of media-generated porn which warps the sense of sex and intimacy.

All this pressure creates unrealistic sexual expectations, because in every committed, long-term relationship…

Mediocre sex is inevitable.

Sooner or late in every…


When the winner is the biggest loser.

As with any article regarding a persecutor-victim dynamic, I want to emphasize that I do not condone any form of verbal, emotional, or sexual violence.

As a therapist, I often see couples engage in an unconscious dynamic — a “competition” as to who suffers more in the relationship. Whenever one partner shares their pain, the other immediately declares that they are suffering more.

I choose to see this rivalry as part of the victim triangle dynamic. It’s a dynamic where partners constantly fluctuate between the roles of a victim, persecutor, and savior.

Sometimes, one partner agrees to constantly lose the…


Your relationship is too precious. For every “mis-take,” give it a do-over.

We all make mistakes in our relationships.

Ruptures are inevitable.

John and Julie Gottman found in their research two main patterns separating the “masters” from “disasters” of relationship:

  • Happy couples maintain a minimum of 5:1 ration between positive interactions (lets call them Yeses) and negative interactions (Nos).
  • Relationship masters, have a similar quantity of arguments as unhappy couples but they are better at offering and accepting repair attempts. A repair attempt is “any statement or action — silly or otherwise — that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” (Gottman & Silver, 1999).

While the idea is simple, the execution…


Daring to experience the dark will increase your light.

One of the goals of living a fulfilled, actualized life is the ability to feel.

Feelings are what makes us “human” and differentiate us from objects such as a chair or table. Feelings are what gives us meaning and “meat” to our life.

In the clinic, I aim to help clients feel feelings openly without falling to two extremes: detachment on one side and emotional flooding on the other.

Emotional range

When I work in the clinic with clients I like to use a metaphor of an emotional range from 1 to 10. Imagine all the human emotions are on…


By calling yourself out, you will find progress and vitality.

You want to be free to do and be whatever you want in your life.

This type of freedom could be called Negative Freedom, being free from constraints. Being single offers ample relational negative liberty.

Being in a committed, intimate relationship holds the possibility of Positive Freedom due to the moral, financial, sexual, logistical, and familial limitations. Positive freedom is acting according to the values, rules, and limitations you have taken upon yourself. Living within your positive freedom helps you develop character, congruence, and confidence.

So how can you leverage the positive freedom of your relationship in order to grow…

Assael Romanelli, Ph.D.

Couple and family therapist. International trainer and speaker. Improviser and multi-potentialite. www.potentialstate.com

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